August 28, 2015

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Fair is over. It wasn't the best, and I got pretty beat up, but it was a good learning experience for Jethro. Before I begin talking about the nitty gritty details of Jethro, I have to wallow in self pity by complaining about my series of unfortunate events.
Day 1: Stung by a bee (nearly passed out) and sprained my ankle
Day 2: Bit by a spider (red bullseye + bruise rings) and broke my iPhone 
Day 3: Came down with a lovely cold
There are greater tragedies in life, but nonetheless it was definitely not very fun. Enough about my first world problems, let's talk about Jethro and how I completely set him up for failure.

Donkey long ears
His long ears are full of lies
In short, my donkey was dreadful to be around. While in his stall he constantly struck his door, reared, and brayed his head off. In the ring, he found it quite comical to rear in the line up and ignore my cues. Whilst meeting new people he found it fun to buck towards them, run away, and/or attempt to nip at them. He also took great pride in biting my legs and rearing while I tried to halter him or practice showmanship. Oh, and he also tried to kick the vet. 
In short, he hated everyone he met and was in a terrible mood the entire time he was there. My sweet, innocent little darling donkey was replaced by a dreadful donkey. That being said, I hold no grudges about the way the week went and take 110% blame for his terrible behavior.

Miniature donkey
Taken seconds before he brayed for 5 minutes straight

The first 6 months I had him, I would work with him for two hours a day and hauled him to different places multiple times a week. He never put a foot out of place — he was never mean and screaming little kids could run up directly behind him and yank his tail for all he cared. These past few months I have been slacking off and mainly working on tricks, going on nature walks, and lightly practicing showmanship. I haven't taken him to any shows, and he hasn't been exposed to strangers lately. I also have definitely not been working with him for two hours each day.
Looking back, it was very unreasonable to expect him to be a rock star again this year considering his age and the lack of amount of actual training I have be doing recently.  He is quite well behaved at home, but fair was a whole different story.

Miniature donkey
After this was taken he bit my knee... at least he's cute
I definitely believe his issues are easily fixable; in fact, they aren't even his fault — they are mostly mine. Regardless, his behavior was absolutely unacceptable at the fair, and I am changing a lot of things. For starters, I will be bringing him to a lot more events, even if it is just to sit and watch.  Doing well at home is one thing, doing well in a crazy environment is another.

August 21, 2015

Off to the Fair

It's that crazy time of the year again: fair week. Unfortunately, it will just be Jethro and I attending the fair this year. I would love to bring Ypke, but due to moving I can only stay for the first half of the week. Since Jethro is in the yearling category, he is allowed to leave earlier in the week, but Ypke would have to stay the entire time since she is not considered a green horse. It's a bummer, but there is always next year.

Last year's haul

Last week it finally hit me that fair was rapidly approaching. I really haven't done much with Jethro in terms of showmanship and groundwork this summer... Whoops! He has mainly just been learning new tricks, playing fetch, going on nature walks, and having spa days.

After realizing that all he really did was walk politely at my shoulder and halt when asked, I slightly panicked because trotting, backing, haunch turns, and the like are required in showmanship patterns.  I made it a priority to begin working with him on showmanship twice a day whenever I could — once in the morning and once in the evening.  

Showmanship last year
I am honestly amazed by how quickly he learns compared to Ypke. Don't get me wrong, Ypke is very bright and catches on quickly, but Jethro literally only takes 5 minutes to learn something. I'm not sure if it is just him being young or a donkey thing, but it is actually quite surprising. I had never really asked him to back before, so I just kept a gentle, steady pressure pulling back on the lead. He took one step, and I gave him a click and a treat. Literally 5 minutes later he was backing several steps and already weaned off of the clicker. 

As of today, he can correctly transition and stay at my shoulder in both the walk and the trot, halt the second I ask, back, and do a forehand turn. Now we have two days to pick up the haunch turn and sidepass. Haunch turn is my first priority!

This past week has pretty much just been cramming for the final test after not paying attention the entire semester. Not a recommended tactic!

August 7, 2015

Wahl Saves the Day!

Last month, I wrote about how body clipping Jethro this summer didn't go quite as planned. There were bald spots, clipper lines, and uneven/choppy hair. In other words, he looked like a neglected, diseased donkey.

Lister Star body clipping
Guess who came to our rescue?  None other than Wahl Clipper (aka Lister Shearing for you UK folks). They saw what a mess I had made and kindly sent me their Lister Star Clippers to clean up the situation.

Lister Star horse body clippers
So pretty
Upon taking them out of the case, the first thing I did was plug them in and turn them on. As far as heavy duty clippers go, these were actually a lot quieter than I expected. My other pair sounded like a chainsaw mixed with somebody furiously sharpening a knife — these are definitely not that extreme. Don't expect a whisper as these are powerful clippers, but they shouldn't startle you or make you want to cover your ears. 

Lister Star horse body clipper

Now onto the blades — have you ever had to hunt down a screwdriver (bonus points: a type that you don't have and is good for nothing else) and take out several tiny screws? Maybe I am just unlucky, but I sure have! That is not the case with these. The knob that you see above the blades is for adjusting the tension. To remove the blades, simply loosen the knob with your hands until the knob, spring, and screw come out. Voila! It literally only took me 10 seconds max, and I am probably the least dexterous person out there.

Lister Star body clipping
Jethro AFTER (same side as the before picture)
What I previously mentioned is all dandy, but I'm sure you are wondering how well they actually clip. Here's your answer: like a hot knife through butter. My coarse (2.5mm) blades had no issues cutting through his thick hair whatsoever. However, as he is a miniature, I did find it difficult to clip between his legs and other small areas since the blade alone is 3" wide. The struggle is that although they are a bit too large for a mini, they are the only clippers I have found that can actually cut through his yak fur. Throughout the session, I came to like two additional things about these clippers: 1.) At just 800 grams (about 1.76 pounds) they are very lightweight and your arm doesn't feel like a noodle after you have been clipping for awhile. 2.) They don't overheat! My old clippers would get burning hot after several minutes, but these stayed fairly cool.

-Fairly quiet
-Don't overheat
-Long, heavy-duty cord
-Easy to remove blades for cleaning
-Several different colors to choose from

-A bit large for maneuvering them on smaller animals
-Blades are rather costly at $50 each, but at least they can be re-sharpened inexpensively

Grooming a donkey
Jethro is ready for fair now!
Thank you to the kind folks at Wahl for salvaging Jethro's dignity! They have recently been running some neat giveaways, so if you want a chance to win some free swag, be sure to check them out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

**Disclosure: Wahl Clipper/Lister Shearing sent me their Lister Star clippers free of charge for review purposes. While I did receive this product at no expense, all thoughts expressed in this review are based off of my own personal experiences.**